Slovenia Majority Votes “No” on Marriage Equality Law Referendum
Dec 23, 2015 07:15 AM EST
Majority of the Slovenian electorate who turned up on the December 20 referendum on upholding the law on same-sex marriage voted "No". The result came from the preliminary count of the State Electoral Commission, after counting 99% of the votes. It came out 36.5% in favor of the law, and 63.5% not in favor. The Associated Press first posted the news on their Twitter account.
MPs from Slovenia's United Left Party believe this to be only a temporary setback. According to Violeta Tomic, United Left Party MP, the fight isn't over yet and "sooner or later the law will be accepted". The left leaning party introduced the law which was approved in March this year. The law defines marriage as a union between two consenting adults. However, it was never enacted because Parliament opponents challenged it immediately. The Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) is the main opposition party, and against the law. Children At Stake, a civil society group, gathered 40,000 signatures to contend the changes in the legislation and took the issue to the high court. This initiative put the brakes on any gay couple intending to get married in Slovenia. Ales Primc from Children Are At Stake has quoted this event as a "victory for our children".
The predominantly Catholic nation with a population of two million is considered to be one of the most liberal among all ex-communist nations in Europe. Despite this, gay rights still remain a highly contentious issue. According to the BBC, the conservatives in Parliament have received support from Pope Francis who urged Slovenians to "back the family as the structural reference point for the life of society". This is the nation's second vote on gay rights in three years. Back in 2012, almost 55% of voters voted "No" in a referendum to grant more rights to gay people, which also included the right to adopt a partner's child from a former union.
The Slovenia vote is a clear example of an emerging cultural split within the EU. On one side are the more established Western European states like France, Spain, and the UK, that grant equal rights to gay people. Juxtaposed on the other side are the newer Central and Eastern European member states who are still stuck on conservative attitudes towards the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community. Roma Kuhar, a male sociologist living with his male partner of 11 years, is disappointed with the result but believes that the same law "will be enforced at some point in the future".
According to Politico, the law updated in March will revert to the old rules: civil partnerships are allowed between same-sex couples, but not marriage. If the "Yes" vote had won, it would've been a milestone in Slovenia's history, making it the first Central European Slavic and post-Communist nation and EU member state to allow same-sex couples to marry.